Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Today, Saturday, July 26th, the news are that Prime Minster Netanyahu agreed to offer a 12 hours pause in the assault on Hamas in honor of the Muslim Eid al Fitr celebration and Hamas agreed to obey as well. The general hope is that the time will be used to start negotiations that could justify an extension of this truce. So far these news rated page 8 of the New York Times.
We follow very closely these events as SUSTAINABILITY in the Middle East requires a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the creation of an agreed upon and legitimized two or three States solution in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.
After the release of the Genie of War from his temporary tunnel. Israel cannot allow another temporary non-solution that will clearly lead only to renewed fighting down the road. Kick the Can time is over they say. The destruction of the military capability of Hamas and making safe the frontiers around the Gaza Strip – so no tunneling under those frontiers will continue in the aftermass of the 2914 conflict.
In these conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet have no interest in a 7 days cease-fire suggested by US Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, neither does Israel consider pulling back the military equipment and the military from the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip without having achieved first the destruction of those tunnels – some as three mile long. Nor will Israel allow bringing in cement to the Gaza Strip before there is an authority to monitor that this cement is used for housing and roads and not for repairing those tunnels and build new ones.
Those issues are fully known to Mr. Kerry and he also mentions them in his argument for cease-fire and negotiations, but here comes his meeting in Cairo where besides the President and Foreign Minister of Egypt acting as hosts, he also faced the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was pulled in as International Boss by the Amir of Qatar.to whom Mr. Kerry had to give homage in order to get the UN into this as representing the World at large – knowing that he came here on money from the main backer of the Hamas, while he himself, Mr. Ban, is in effect leaning on help from the Arab League at large that was represented in Cairo thus by the boss of the boss – Mr. Nabil AlArabi, Secretary -General of the Arab League that Mr, Ban Ki-moon recognizes as representing the Middle East region without Israel at the UN. So far as the UN goes, Israel is not in Western Asia, but in Europe and “Others” – somewhat closer to the moon.
The real power the four elements that met in Cairo on July 24th is shown in the reporting from the US Department of State that we post here in full. The last speaker being obviously the one who thinks he represents the power of Sunni Islam – Arab and Turkish
Nabil AlAraby (born 15 March 1935 in Egypt) is an experienced Egyptian diplomat who has been Secretary-General of the Arab League since July 2011. Previously, he was Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf’s post revolution government from March to June 2011. Elaraby was Legal Adviser and Director in the Legal and Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978 and then Ambassador to India from 1981 to 1983; he then returned to his previous post at the Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1987.
He was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East peace conference in 1978, Head of the Egyptian delegation to the Taba negotiations from 1985 to 1989, and Agent of the Egyptian Government to the Egyptian-Israeli arbitration tribunal (Taba dispute) from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Egyptian Minister of Justice on the list of arbitrations in civil and commercial affairs in Egypt in 1995.
He holds a J.S.D. (1971) and an LL.M. (1969) from New York University School of Law and a law degree from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Law (1955). AlAraby is a partner at Zaki Hashem & Partners in Cairo, specializing in negotiations and arbitration.
at the United Nations:
In 1968 Elaraby was an Adlai Stevenson Fellow in International Law at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). He was appointed a Special Fellow in International Law at UNITAR in 1973, and was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations Geneva Middle East peace conference from 1973-1975.
AlArby was Egypt’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1978 to 1981, the Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva from 1987 to 1991, the Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 1991 to 1999, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1994 to 2004, President of the Security Council in 1996, and Vice-President of the General Assembly in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was a commissioner at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and a member of the International Court of Justice from 2001 until February 2006.
AlAraby has served as Chairman for the First (Disarmament and international security questions) Committee of the General Assembly, the Informal Working Group on an Agenda for Peace, the Working Group on Legal Instruments for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the UN Special Committee on Enhancing the Principle of the Prohibition of the Use of Force in International Relations.
Other international work:
AlAraby was an Arbitrator at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration in Paris in a dispute concerning the Suez Canal from 1989 to 1992. He was a judge in the Judicial Tribunal of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1990.
AlAraby was a member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from 2000 to 2010. Since December 2008 he has been serving as the Director of the Regional Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and as a counsel of the Sudanese government in the “Abyei Boundary” Arbitration between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Revolutionary Movement.
AlAraby has also served as a Member of the Board for the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, a Member of the Board for the Egyptian Society of International Law, and a Member of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Centre List of Neutrals.
2011 Egyptian revolution and transitional government:
Nabil AlAraby was one of the group of about 30 high-profile Egyptians acting as liaison between the protesters and the government, and pressing for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.
At a democracy forum on 25 February 2011, he said the Egyptian government suffered from a lack of separation of powers, a lack of transparency and a lack of judicial independence.
He said foreign policy should be based on Egypt’s interests, including “holding Israel accountable when it does not respect its obligations.“
On 6 March 2011, he was appointed Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf‘s post-revolution cabinet. Since then he has opened the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza and brokered the reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah.
Clearly – a very versed man with large horizon and it is not clear where he stands with the present government of Egypt. Clearly not in the US corner.
From the US Department of State – Remarks from
Secretary of State
July 25, 2014 o9:59 PM EDT
Remarks With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. You know that Egypt is – the serious military escalation in Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been exposed to in terms of destruction – broad destruction and killing of civilians that claimed up until now over 800 civilians and thousands of injured. We are working incessantly to end this crisis and to spare the Palestinian people of the dangers it has been exposed to, and to prevent further military escalation. And this has led to the proposal – to us proposing our plan, and we should know that Egypt has not spared any effort to stop – or to reach a cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people and to allow for negotiations to start between the two parties in order to discuss all the issues, in order to restore stability in the Gaza strip, and to meet the needs of the brotherly Palestinian people, and to also prevent further violence which the Palestinian civilians have been exposed to.
We have continued our efforts since the beginning of the military escalation to achieve this goal in cooperation with the U.S. and the secretary-general of the UN and the secretary-general of the Arab League and other parties – other regional and international parties in order to achieve this goal. We once again call for the immediate cease-fire, a cease of all actions in order to protect the Palestinian people. And given that the parties have not shown any – sufficient willingness to stop this, we are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire to observe the holy days that we are on the verge of observing at the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid for a period of seven days, in the hope that this will lead – will prompt the parties to heed the calls of conscience and humanitarian needs in order to reach a comprehensive cease-fire, and also begin negotiations in order to prevent the reoccurrence of this crisis.
And also, to propose a good framework for this objective, we have consulted over the last few days in order to formulate a formula that would be agreed to by all the sides, and also to stop the bloodshed. But unfortunately, we have to exert further effort in order to realize our common goals in this regard. The proposed ideas were focused or fell within the same framework that the Egyptian plan proposed. And once again, we will call on all parties to benefit from it and to accept it definitively. I would like on this occasion also to allow the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right. Well, let me start again. I want to thank Sameh Shoukry and President al-Sisi and Egypt for their very warm welcome here, but most importantly for their continued efforts to try to find a way to achieve a cease-fire agreement in Gaza and then beyond that, to be able to resolve the critical issues that are underlying this conflict. I thank Sameh for his help today and the work we’ve been doing together. We’ve made some movement and progress, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.
I also want to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has traveled and worked tirelessly in these past days throughout the international community to try to bring people together, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby for his close partnership in this effort. They’ve been sources of good advice and also of tireless effort. So this is a broad effort with a broad based sense that something needs to be done.
I also want to acknowledge President Abbas who has traveled to any number of countries in recent days, and whom I met with just the other day, who expressed his desire – strong desire to achieve a cease-fire as rapidly as possible, and he has been passionately advocating for the Palestinian people and the future of the Palestinian state.
Let me just say that the agony of the events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated. The daily reality for too many people of grief and blood and loss and tears, it all joins together to pull at the fabric of daily life in each of their communities.
In Israel, millions of people are living under constant threat of Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks, and they’re ready to take cover at any moment’s notice. And I’ve had telephone conversations with the prime minister interrupted by that fact. Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with the family of a young man by the name of Max Steinberg, an American – one of two Americans killed in this devastating conflict – and his mother Naftali Fraenkel, who was murdered at the outset – whose son was murdered at the very outset of this crisis.
So any parent in the world, regardless of somebody’s background, can understand the horror of losing a child or of seeing these children who are caught in the crossfire. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have died over the past few weeks, including a tragic number of civilians. And we’ve all read the headlines and seen the images of the devastation: 16 people killed and more than 200 injured in just a single attack yesterday; women and children being wheeled away on stretchers; medics pulling shrapnel out of an infant’s back; a father nursing his three-year-old son. The whole world is watching a – tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering: When is everybody going to come to their senses?
Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve and need to lead normal lives, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that violence breeds violence and that the short-term tactical gains that may be made through a violent means simply will not inspire the long-term change that is necessary and that both parties really want.
I have been in the region since Monday at the request of President Obama, and I’ve spent five days on the ground here and also in Israel in the West Bank engaging in countless discussions with leaders throughout the region and even around the world, conversations lasting, obviously, late into the night and through the day. We have gathered here, my colleagues and I have gathered here together because we believe that it is impossible for anybody to simply be inactive and not try to make government work to deal with this bloodshed. We need to join together and push back.
Specifically, here is what we’ve been working to try to bring about. At this moment, we are working toward a brief seven days of peace – seven days of a humanitarian cease-fire in honor of Eid, in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire for the long run, and to work to create the plans for that long haul.
The fact is that the basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative, but the humanitarian concept is one that Egypt has agreed to embrace in an effort to try to honor Eid and bring people together at this moment. Seven days, during which the fundamental issues of concern for Israel – security, the security of Israel and its people – and for the Palestinians – the ability to know that their social and economic future can be defined by possibilities, and that those issues will be addressed. We believe that Egypt has made a significant offer to bring people to Cairo – the factions, the Palestinian factions and representatives of interested states and the state of Israel – in order to begin to try to negotiate the way forward.
Now, why are we not announcing that that has been found yet tonight? For a simple reason: That we still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through. But we are confident we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work. And what we need to do is continue to work for that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes, perhaps take some steps that could build some confidence, and begin to change the choices for all.
We don’t yet have that final framework, but I will tell you this: None of us here are stopping. We are going to continue the conversations. And right now, before I came in here tonight, I had conversations with people on both sides of this conflict. Just spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who made it clear that he wants to try to find this way forward. I think the Secretary-General, who has graciously called for a 12-hour cease-fire, will speak in a moment about that possibility and where it will go. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indicated his willingness to do that as a good-faith down payment and to move forward. And I’m grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership in that regard.
But in the end, the only way that this issue is going to be resolved, this conflict, is for the parties to be able to come together and work through it as people have in conflicts throughout history. And it’s our hope, and we intend to do everything possible. Tomorrow, I will be in Paris, where I will meet with some of our counterparts, my counterparts, and where I will also meet with other players who are important to this discussion in an effort to be able to try to see if we can narrow the gap. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to try to help do that over the course of the next day.
So we begin with at least the hope of a down payment on a cease-fire, with the possibility of extension, a real possibility in the course of tomorrow. And hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can find at least one step towards that elusive goal. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Secretary-General.
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, League of Arab States Secretary-General al-Araby. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Assalamu alaikum, Ramadan Kareem.
Let me begin by commending all the leaders here today. I’d like to particularly thank President Sisi of Egypt and Foreign Minister Shoukry as the host of this initiative to have made ceaseless efforts to bring all the parties together. And I also commend highly the leadership and commitment and tirelessly – tireless diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, and it has been a source of inspiration to work with all these distinguished colleagues. And I have been obviously closely working with League of Arab States Secretary General al-Araby.
This is my sixth day in the region visiting eight countries, 11 stops, meeting kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, over meeting, over telephones. I have been working very closely with the leaders here as well as all the leaders in the region. I really appreciate their kind cooperation and leadership. Our joint effort is a clear signal of a global commitment to end the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of hope and the hopes of so many innocent civilians. People of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land. Every bit of it is a civilian area. The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further. We are seeing growing unrest in the West Bank. Surely now, the parties must realize that it is time for them to act, and solutions must be based on three important issues.
First, stop the fighting. We called for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire extending over the Eid period, beginning with a extendable 12-hour pause. Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances, and all parties must find a way to dialogue. Third, tackle the root causes of the crisis. This effort – peace effort – cannot be the same as it was the last two Gaza conflicts, where we reset the clock and waited for the next one. The ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation, end the chokehold on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition and achieve a viable two-state solution, by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.
Along with world and regional leaders, we continue to make every effort to forge a durable cease-fire for the people of Gaza and Israel based on those three pillars. Progress is being made, but there is much more work to do. We may not be satisfied with what we are now proposing, but we have to build upon what we are now proposing. In the meantime, more children are dying every hour of every day.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last Friday of Ramadan. The world is just away from marking Eid-al-Fitr. Let us all take inspiration from this season of peace and reflection. The United Nations is fully committed to ensuring the success of this proposal and securing hope and dignity for all the people of Palestine and Israel. And I thank you again for all leaders in the region and in the world who have been working together with the United Nations and the leaders here to bring peace and security to this region. I thank you very much. Shukran Jazilan.
MODERATOR: Thank you. (Via interpreter.) Secretary-general of the United – of the Arab League.
SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to thank also the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a very serious and grave situation. There are martyrs in Palestine have been – have died as a result of the Israeli aggression and the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law. People have been fired at, children are falling, and all civilians are being killed. This is the holiest month in the Islamic world, as those before me have mentioned. And on the eve of the Eid, we would like to support and uphold the idea of a cease-fire, as Mr. John Kerry has said and also the UN Secretary-General has said.
But before I conclude my very brief remarks, I would like to say that the occupation and the siege on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – these are occupied territories. We cannot imagine that the siege and the occupation, that there would be no resistance to them. For that reason, everyone should work to end this conflict. I would allow myself to say, in English and in very simple and brief language: (In English) In a very simple and concise way, that as much as I support the humanitarian (inaudible), but we have to look at it. I think everyone has to do that. We have to look ahead. Then it’s diplomacy, and then (inaudible) results. We have to dedicate ourselves, all of us, to reach a final solution. That means the end of the occupation. Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will be taking four questions, from Arshad (inaudible) first of all.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Mr. United Nations Secretary-General has to leave.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. My question is for Mr. John Kerry and Minister Sameh Shoukry. You’ve launched this proposal or plan. Has there been – have there been contacts between the two sides, and how far have you reached in these contexts, especially that the Eid is approaching fast?
With respect to the rules of engagement that Israel uses in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank, and what we’ve seen in terms of destruction of and demolishing of hospitals, have you received any guarantees from Israel that these actions would not be repeated? And thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the negotiating process, it’s inappropriate to sort of lay out all the details, but of course we’re talking to everybody that we can talk to who has an ability to have an impact, and obviously I’m talking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and directly to other foreign ministers in the region, some of whom have different ways of talking with different factions of Palestinians, as well as talking to President Abbas. In the course of that, it’s very clear to me that under very difficult circumstances some are ready to move and others are reluctant and need assurances of one kind or another. And clearly, given the history, some of those assurances are sometimes difficult to be able to make and formulate appropriately so that somebody else doesn’t wind up being – struggling with them. That’s why the simplicity of this is really the best, which is come to the table and negotiate.
But to the degree that either side needs assurances of one thing or another being talked about, without outcomes, no preconditions, but something being negotiated and talked about, then you get in a contest of priorities and other kinds of things.
I believe we can work through those things. We have. The basic outline is approved by everybody. People believe that if the circumstances are right, the structure is right, a cease-fire makes sense, a cease-fire is important, and people would like to see the violence end. But it has to obviously be in ways that neither side feels prejudiced or their interests compromised.
So that’s what we’re working on. I think we’ve made serious progress. We sat today, worked some things out to deal with some of those sensitivities, but basically we still have some more things to do over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours, and we’re going to do that. My hope is that the 12 hours will be extended, perhaps to 24, and that people will draw from that the goodwill and effort to try to find a solution. But it takes – the parties have to come together and reach an understanding, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on because it’s urgent for innocent people who get caught in the crossfire, and obviously the – as I said in my opening remarks, people in Israel deserve to live free from fear that their home or their school will be rocketed, but people in Palestine, the Palestinian territories and people in Gaza have a right to feel free from restraints on their life where they can barely get the food or the medicine or the building materials and the things that they need.
So there’s a lot on the table. It’s been complicated for a long time; it didn’t get easy last night. But we’re going to continue to work at this, and I’m confident that with goodwill, with good effort, I think progress can hopefully be made.
FOREIGN SECRETARY SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, since the outbreak of the crisis in Gaza, we have been in contact with all parties, with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. We have expended serious efforts based on our own Egyptian initiative, and also in cooperation with the American side. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you, to thank Mr. Kerry for his efforts and – that he has spent and continues to expend, and his cooperation in order to achieve a complete cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people.
Military action and the serious escalation and the serious strikes taking place against the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, prove the importance of immediate action to end this crisis so that it would not result or lead to more serious ramifications, not just in the occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. The framework we talk about is a framework that is – that the U.S. Secretary of State has talked about – is based on the Egyptian initiative, and also based on the idea of encouraging the parties to interact with it, so that we can reach a complete cease-fire and seizure of all military action, and to also save civilians from being targeted, and to end the bloodshed, just like the strike against the school yesterday. Such actions should not be repeated and should completely end, and so should military action.
And a temporary humanitarian cease-fire should be accepted to give a chance, an opportunity for interaction between the various parties, and perhaps expand it beyond there, so that all parties would come to recognize that a comprehensive solution to all this crisis and to the Palestinian conflict should be reached, and also to establish a Palestinian state in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such a grave situation.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Arshad Mohammed.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as I imagine you are aware, there are multiple reports that the Israeli cabinet today rejected the cease-fire proposal that you had on the table and said they wanted modifications. Do you regard that as just a negotiating ploy or do you regard it as likely to be a more definitive rejection?
And secondly, have you made any direct progress on getting the Egyptians to commit to opening Rafah, on getting the Israelis to commit to increasing traffic at the Erez crossing, and on getting Hamas to agree to let Israeli troops stay in the Gaza Strip during a truce? If you haven’t made any headway on those issues, how is it possible – after five days of diplomacy, how is it possible to describe these days as having produced serious progress?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with the first issue, which is the fiction of diplomacy and of politics at the same time. There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear. And Prime Minister Netanyahu called me a few minutes before this to make it clear that that is an error, inaccurate, and he’s putting out a statement to that effect. They may have rejected some language or proposal within the framework of some kind of suggestion at some point in time, but there was no formal proposal submitted from me on which there should have been a vote or on which a vote was ripe. We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things, and I consider that one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances of what we’ve been doing and are engaged in.
With respect to the individual issues that you raised, I’m not going to make any announcements and I’m certainly not going to reveal issues that are of a bilateral nature between Egypt and the United States or the United States and another country, but I will simply tell you in a candid way that those issues were talked about, and I am satisfied with the responses that I received with respect to how they might affect the road ahead. And each and every one of them I believe there are ways of moving forward.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible)
QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Kerry and the Egyptian foreign minister. First of all, it seems that all of those efforts, the phone calls, visits have led only to a cease-fire for seven hours. Why is the reasons for not having more achievements? Who is blockading having more achievements in this? Is it Israel, or is it Hamas? Is it the Palestinians? Who is going to – we are going to blame on this? Because we have heard that Israel refused. As you have said, it’s not correct, but it was published that Israel refused, actually, some ideas of having more cease-fire, more than seven hours.
Also, it seems that all of this is because the peace process has stopped, actually, because of the settlements of Israel. This is the main cause – the blockade of course, and other things on the Gaza, the boycotts on Gaza. People can’t have food or water or other things, but also the peace process have stopped. You have – Secretary Kerry have done a lot in this, and yet you didn’t say why, who is the reasons behind it stopping.
And my question is for our foreign minister, please. (Via interpreter.) There is a lot of talk about the Rafah Crossing, and that Egypt is – closes this crossing. And there’s also an attempt to blame the siege, the Israeli siege on Gaza, on Egypt, even though it has – Israel has closed six crossings and is responsible for the siege. Can there be some clarification with respect to the Rafah Crossing, and will it continue to be closed in the coming days?
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you. With respect to Rafah Crossing, I have repeatedly responded to this, but it seems no one is listening. Rafah Crossing is open continuously and at all times, but it has to be under regulation related to Egyptian policy, and it’s also related to the situation in Sinai. But it is open, and it receives constantly and permanently, around the clock, people from the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, and more than 600 or 700 tons of food and medical material have crossed. And the crossing has never been tied or linked to any kind of siege on the Gaza Strip.
The six Israeli crossings that you referred to, they have to be operational. And the responsibility of Israel as an occupation authority is what – it is the responsibility of Israel, and we have called for this in our initiative, that the Israeli crossings need to be open so that the needs and the humanitarian needs of the Gazans should be met, and so that also normal life would be restored to the Gaza Strip. I hope that this response will be widely shared and it’s clear without any attempt to internationalize or to misinterpret the situation.
SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, I think a great deal has been moved in the course of the last days. Though it doesn’t meet your eye yet, those of us who are working this have a feeling that gaps have been significantly narrowed on certain things, but obviously not everything yet.
And in fairness, it’s important to say that, yes, Israel had some questions or even opposition to one concept or another concept – that doesn’t mean to a proposal by any means – at an early stage of discussion. But most importantly, I think it’s important to note that in Ramadan, when everything is on a different schedule, it’s more complicated to be able to have some meetings, particularly when I am mediating between different people who talk to different people. And it’s secondhand, thirdhand, it takes longer. So there’s a certain time consumption in all of that.
But I’m not a – I’m not somebody who I think is going to stand here and misinterpret the difficulties. At the same time, I can recognize progress when I see it and a concept that has taken shape. And I think my colleagues would agree there’s a fundamental concept here that can be achieved if we work through some of the issues of importance to the parties. That’s the art, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen overnight or as quickly as you’d like. But it doesn’t mean it can’t.
And so – by the way, it’s not seven hours; it’s 12 hours with a very likely extension of another 12, hopefully for 24, but we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding on that. And on the peace process, I’ve purposely tried not to start pointing fingers and getting involved, because to us, the process is not over. It hasn’t stopped, and it doesn’t help to be starting to point fingers. What you have to do is figure out, okay, where do you go from here and how. In the course of this conflict right now, I would respectfully suggest to you there are some very serious warnings about what happens when you don’t have that process, and what happens if you’re not working effectively to try to achieve a resolution of the underlying issues.
This is about the underlying issues. And what we need to do is get through this first. It’s a little surrealistic in the middle of this to be talking about the other process, but those people who have been at this for a long time, my colleagues here and others, absolutely know that that is at the bedrock of much of the conflict and the trouble that we all witness here and that is going to have to be resolved if there is a chance of peace, and we believe there is.
Egypt has been a leader on that. Years ago, Egypt took extraordinary risk, and we all know what the consequences were. Egypt made peace, and it has made a difference. And the truth is that today there’s a great commitment here and elsewhere in the region to be able to get back to the process and try to address those underlying issues.
So it’s not gone. It’s dormant for the moment. It’s in hiatus because of the events that are taking place. But the leaders I’ve talked to tell me that what they’re witnessing now and what they’re seeing now has reinforced in them the notion that they needed to get back to that table as soon as possible and begin to address those concerns.
I don’t know if you want to say anything on that.
SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, with respect to the peace process, we call for the resumption of negotiations under U.S. sponsorship. Based from the point we have – it has stopped at, we do not want to go back to the beginning, but several accomplishments have been made on several issues. And we have to build on this progress in order to reach our ultimate goal, which the entire international community has agreed to: the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on Palestinian land with East Jerusalem, and this is the final solution to this conflict. And this will give the Palestinian people a chance to have a normal life away from killing and destruction, and to also fulfill its aspirations – the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the region, and will also ultimately lead to a final end to the conflict.
MODERATOR: (Speaking in Arabic, not interpreted) at CBS, Margaret Brennan.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, given the protests that we’ve seen in the West Bank over the past 24 hours, which resulted in at least one fatality, do you believe – do you fear that a third intifada is about to happen? And could you clarify – when you said that there’s a difference of terminology in regard to these negotiations, that sounds technical rather conceptual. Can you clarify what you meant there?
SECRETARY KERRY: I can, but I won’t. (Laughter.) I think it’s important to let us work quietly on those things and not put them out in the public domain, but I applaud you for a worthy try.
With respect to the incidents and events on the West Bank, I have learned not to characterize something ahead of time or predict it, and I’m not going to now. But I do know that the leaders I’ve talked to in Israel, in the West Bank, in Jordan are deeply concerned about what they are seeing right now. And it is very, very necessary for all of us to take it into account as we think about the options that we have in front of us. It’s just enormously disturbing to see this kind of passion find its way into violent protests, and in some cases not violent.
But we need to address – it’s a statement to all of us in positions of responsibility, get the job done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.
 Max Steinberg’s mother’s name is Evie Steinberg, and Naftali Fraenkel is the name if the murdered American and Israeli teen.
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.
The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush; Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates; Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet; and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.
This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.
Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner. Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.
Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.
Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas, while the Amir of Qatar is backing them. So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State. Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.
I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”
Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:
- Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?
- The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.
- Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless. I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.
- New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was. In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.
- Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
World’s top solar thermal experts to lecture at University Pretoria.
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The world’s top solar thermal experts offer a specialist workshop on “Solar Heat for Industrial Applications” at the University of Pretoria on 3 and 4 February 2014.
The audience of 36 is exclusively limited to persons who have attended previous SOLTRAIN courses, or have experience with large solar water systems in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
This Train-the-Trainer workshop is part of the unique Southern African Training and Demonstration Initiative, sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency. The Pretoria University workshop is coordinated by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. “Train-the-Trainer” entails that the recipients of this specialist training are committed to disseminate the knowledge they received.
“South Africa and the SADC region urgently need this expertise“, says Prof Dieter Holm, regional SOLTRAIN coordinator, “and this is a cost-effective way of creating decent long-term jobs”. Project leader, Werner Weiss, concurs: “Southern Africa has twice Austria‘s sunshine”.
The University of Pretoria is South Africa‘s and SADC’s leader in the use of solar water heating in their student residences. The University is also building a thermal demonstration unit for practical experiments by students. The Pretoria campus falls within the SOLTRAIN Solar Thermal Flagship District where various installations can be visited by technical tourists and political decision-makers.
Southern Africa boasts 59% of the world’s best winter sunshine area, but does not rank among the global solar thermal leaders. “Not yet”, says Holm, “but, given enabling legislation and leadership by example in government buildings, we would create a sustainable and competitive solar water heating industry in the region. A strong local solar water heating industry will earn forex, reduce our chronic regional electricity problem, reduce pollution and contribute to achieving our environmental commitments”.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.
By Mel Chin | Creative Time | April 30, 2014
View of Smara, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.
What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.
The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”
It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.
And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.
Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project in St. Roch, New Orleans. CREDIT: Amanda Wiles, 2009.
At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.
That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.
When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.
In the tent of Abderrahman and his family. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.
In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.
The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.
The children’s school at the 27 February Camp. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.
While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.
As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.
What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.
And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.
Freedom is the concept propelling my action with the Sahrawi people. The sun on this poster for the Bank of the Sun is composed of the Arabic word for “freedom,” repeated 38 times—once for every year the Sahrawis have waited for the right to self-determination (as of last year). CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.
I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.
After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.
As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.
Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”
He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”
“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”
“A solar engineer.”
I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”
Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”
For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.
For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.
Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.
In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.
To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.
The site and plans for the potential Bank of the Sun. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.
During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.
My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”
A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.
This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
THE FOLLOWING WE PICKED UP FROM THE GFSE (Global Forum on Sustainable Energy) Newsletter #2, of May 21, 2014.
NEW DELHI, 6 February 2014 – The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All), Kandeh K. Yumkella, today proposed the establishment of three “Creative Coalitions” during a keynote address titled “Rethinking Development” at the 2014 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
Yumkella’s coalitions’ will focus on accelerating continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies, forging a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters, and supporting a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure.
(I) Describing the first coalition as the Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction, CEO Yumkella noted that accelerating massive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies is essential. “We need a group of countries to come together and agree to radically drive down the cost of renewable energy within a decade. Though there are already some locations where wind and solar power have reached grid parity with fossil generated electricity, the key is to make renewable energy universally as cheap as, or cheaper than, current centralized-fossil-based power generation,” he said.
(II) The second coalition, the Energy Efficiency Coalition will comprise the 23 members of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) who account for about 80 percent of global energy demand and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. “They must agree to act collectively to achieve the doubling of the rate of energy efficiency in their economies and small actions such as energy-saving bulbs can reduce a household’s total electricity consumption by up to 15% and could save Europe 40 billion kilowatt-hours a year,” he said.
(III) Noting that African countries embraced mobile telephony more rapidly than other regions, Yumkella’s third coalition – the Coalition of Progressive Transformers would allow the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) to lead the coalition and help many least developed countries leap -frog into the energy internet. “The developing countries can ride the green energy wave into the energy internet by beginning to unbundle the power sector, reforming the governance of their power utilities to make them more transparent and profitable, and by establishing robust institutions, and longer-term predictable policies to crowd-in investment into the sector.”
Yumkella’s proposals are in keeping with the three interlinked targets of the initiative on sustainable energy including increasing access to energy, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables by the year 2030 and an effort to achieve a dedicated goal on “securing sustainable energy for all” in the post -2015 development agenda.
For more information:
Mr. Anthony Kamara
Communications & Media Relations Coordinator
UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL)
Energy: Finally Recognized as a Key Driver for Sustainable Development?
by Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl
How do we move towards sustainable development? How do we ensure the provision of water, food, and natural resources for a world population expected to peak around 9 billion people by mid-century? How do we balance economic growth with social justice and with a management of natural resources that respects the earth’s carrying capacity and takes into consideration future generations’ needs? And how does energy fit into the equation?
These are concerns the international community deals with in its search for a new development paradigm beyond 2015. A paradigm that should guide the development of so-called developing and developed countries alike. A paradigm under which governments and civil society, businesses and academia will have to find new ways of adjusting production and consumption. A paradigm which will operate within countries and across national boundaries.
Energy’s Slow Move unto the Sustainable Development Agenda:
Even though it is hardly conceivable to discuss “sustainable development” without also examining the production, distribution and use of energy, some 20 years had to pass since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit before energy considerations started to be included into global governance. Neither Agenda 21 (the seminal program of action passed at Rio) nor the Millennium Development Declaration adopted in 2000, included energy considerations.
Informal multi-stakeholder platforms operating patiently over lengthy periods of time and major international scientific endeavors contributed greatly to building a consensus about the role of energy in the pursuit of sustainable development. In the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, recognition spread slowly that poverty eradication would remain elusive as long as extreme energy poverty was not tackled; that none of the MDGs could be attained without appropriate energy interventions; and that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would require a major shift to more sustainable energy futures.
Expert groups such as Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) brought together major stakeholders and their reports helped jell the emerging consensus. The Vienna Energy Forum meetings of 2009 and 2011, drawing on the international network built in yearly meetings of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (www.gfse.at) since 2000, prepared the ground for the launching of the Initiative of the UN Secretary-General on “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4All) in December 2011.
SE4All has three overarching objectives that are mutually supportive and should be reached by 2030:
• To provide access to electricity and to modern cooking fuels for those billion people currently without it;
• To double the rate of energy efficiency improvements;
• To double the share of renewable energies in the overall energy end use.
A New Form of International Cooperation on Sustainable Energy for All:
At the Rio+20 conference in June 2012, major partners of SE4All came together to publicly show their support for the initiative. On 21 June 2012, the UN SG announced more than 100 commitments to sustainable energy, estimated at over $50 billion and formulated by governments; private sector corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises; financial institutions, donors and development banks; by non-governmental organizations, artists, academia, and individuals.
Kandeh Yumkella, who had been working tirelessly to build the needed coalitions, was named as UN-SG Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All. He acts as SE4All’s full-time CEO since June 2013.
SE4All is in search of its future legal nature. Any format chosen will have to allow for a good interaction between the public and the private sectors. As the WEC Trilemma Reports 2012 and 2013 underline, public and private players need to listen better to each other and to interact more effectively. Governments need to set clear, long-term frameworks for markets; private sector players have to articulate their needs and expectations clearly to governments.
But an “Initiative” cannot sign checks, nor rent premises. The options are to align with the UN, to form another international organization, or to operate out of a non-for-profit non-governmental setting. For many stakeholders, strict intergovernmental settings and alignment to the UN are too narrow. Yet the UN’s convening power and ability to promote global consensus are irreplaceable.
In order to keep the momentum going Kandeh Yumkella has most recently proposed to form three “creative coalitions” to transform the world’s energy system. These would accelerate continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies (Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction); forge a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters (the Energy Efficiency Coalition); and support a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure (the Coalition of Progressive Transformers).
Evolving Regional Cooperation:
As SE4All is unfolding as a network of networks, regional institutions are also evolving. In Africa, the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, in operation since 2010, has already catalyzed the adoption of regional policies on renewables, energy efficiency, hydro-power and biofuels.
ECREEE is perceived to be so successful that the Eastern African Community (EAC) is now emulating its approach, and so is SADC. The small island developing States, long averse to regional cooperation, are developing similar endeavors with the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) and the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).
UN-Decade of Sustainable Energy for All:
In 2012, the UN decided that 2014 to 2024 should be the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. On 16 December 2013, member States agreed on the first overall energy mandate for the SG who is tasked to coordinate the UN’s work on the Decade of SE4All (2014-2024). All member States are urged to contribute to it.
Post 2015: a Sustainable Development Paradigm with Energy Goals:
So when the international community later this year negotiates the development paradigm for the post-2015 period , energy considerations will hopefully be fully integrated into the deliberations. The High-Level Report “A New Global Partnership” of 30 May 2013 includes, among the 12 indicative goals proposed, goals on energy: the three SE4All goals plus a fourth goal, “to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s report, “An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development” proposes 10 goals and includes “ensuring sustainable energy”. A global consultation process about targets and indicators is currently under way.
While it is not certain that the post-2015 development paradigm negotiations will agree on goals, targets and indicators, the energy community has every interest to keep energy considerations on the table and to see energy goals included, if at all there are goals.
Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl is founder and president of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy and a Vice-President of REN21. She currently serves as Austria’s Ambassador to the PR of China and to Mongolia.
UNIDO support for ECREEE and new regional sustainable energy centers in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.
VIENNA, 13 December 2013 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, signed agreements to support the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and to set up three more centres in East and Southern African and in the Caribbean region.
“The regional renewable energy and energy efficiency centres are another good example of our fruitful partnership with Austria. Local companies and industry will benefit from the growing sustainable energy market opportunities, as well as from regional cooperation and South-South and North-South technology and knowledge transfer,” said LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO.
“We consider the regional centres to be a powerful way to simultaneously address the challenges of energy access, energy security and climate change mitigation in our partner countries. We are pleased to see that our initial contributions have already leveraged major funding commitments from international donors and generated tangible results and impacts. In this context, we would like to thank the Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO for the excellent cooperation in previous years,” said Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the ADA.
The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), based in Praia, Cabo Verde, was established in 2010 to create favourable framework conditions for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The new project will strengthen the ECREEE’s capacity to deal with a rapidly growing project portfolio and expanding external demands for its services.
The two new centres in sub-Saharan Africa will seek to replicate the success of the ECREEE model. One will be established, together with the East African Community (EAC), to serve partner States, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; and the other will serve the 15 Members States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). It is expected that both centres will be fully operational in 2014.
Recently, UNIDO was requested by the Sustainable Energy Island Initiative (SIDS DOCK) of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to assist the island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific in the creation of similar centres. A final agreement on the centres is expected in 2014, which has been declared the International Year of Small Island Developing States.
ECOWAS Observatory Countries:
Cote d Ivoire
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Here’s what’s going on at the White House today.
Friday, May 16, 2014
|“The Faces of Nearly 3,000 Innocent Souls”Yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day.
“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together,” said President Obama. “We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. … Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.”
Read more of the President’s remarks at yesterday’s dedication.
President Obama said that the site is now a “sacred place of healing and of hope.”
“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together. We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters. We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives. A wedding ring. A dusty helmet. A shining badge.
Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget. Of coworkers who led others to safety. Passengers who stormed a cockpit. Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno. Our first responders who charged up those stairs. A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war. A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country. Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.”
In his remarks, the President also told the story of Welles Crowther, a young man who gave his own life in order to save others:
“On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles. Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers. Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety. And in that moment, Alison knew. Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief. Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.
Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future. He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world. He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter. And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.
Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero. And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther. And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.
And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum. And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.”
“Those we lost live on in us,” said the President. “In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.”
The President kept his words tight and dignified without mentioning the perpetrators, but we allow ourselves to be more outspoken and remind our readers that the Bin Ladens are products of our insistence on using their Saudi Arabia as a mere oil-source, and do not dare to talk of human rights or other such banalities as democracy. We also would never speak up against religious Islamic Arab racism as long as the Arab world just persists in harming their own. It is only when they step out of line and harm American or Israeli citizens that we wake up – but still continue to buy their oil and gas.
Now, while we mourn the civilized world’s victims “of all races and creeds” as per the 9/11 beast-made cataclysm – our papers talk of a “Black Bin Laden” by the name of Abubakar Shrkau, the boss of the Islamic Terror-group Boko Haram who has it out against the Christian Nigerians – killing them and abducting their daughters. This is no less then a “cleansing” operation in the Islamic World, and the results are clear in the Middle East and are now being extended to Africa – this along the “oil-road” – be it in Sudan or Nigeria.
When will the US and the EU finally realize that energy is not a synonym for oil?
If Climate Change, and now also the fate of the Ukraine are no eye openers – what will ever awaken a dormant US Congress or a dormant EU Parliament that can think only oil and gas?
On 9/11 2001, the day the UN General Assembly was to start their meetings, I was supposed to participate and being inducted at a ringing of the Peace Bell. Obviously, looking at the clouds of dust hovering over down-town, that were visible even at the 42 Street at the UN, the event was postponed by several days, and when held it was more like a wake not an inspiration. I, and everyone involved in this, will never forget or forgive. (PJ)
And from today’s mail from The Council of Foreign Relations:
Crisis in Nigeria
Why One Nigerian Crisis Attracted Notoriety
Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria has claimed more international attention than any other atrocity of the ongoing insurgency. A Boko Haram warlord’s video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and threatening to, in effect, sell the girls into slavery appears to have fed the media storm, tying the tragedy to larger issues of human trafficking, child marriage, and girls’ education. Read more on Africa in Transition »
Beating Boko Haram
Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “secular education is a sin,” has been committing heinous attacks across Nigeria’s north for years, frequently targeting schools. To fight back, Abuja must double down on education even as it rethinks its counterterrorism strategy. Read more on ForeignAffairs.com »
Get Girls’ Education Out of the Crosshairs
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Education has long been in the crosshairs of extremists, but only recently came to light via Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly three hundred school girls. More than seventy million school-aged children do not attend elementary school. This statistic will need to change to ensure prosperity, stability, and security. Read the op-ed »
Will the “Civilized World” do anything if the present rage subsides? (PJ)
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.
In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.
The billboard shows Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.
The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.
The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.
First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.
And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.
An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.
“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”
Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.
“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.
Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.
Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.
“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.
US Congress has things to tell the Palestinians and Iran with acceptable diplomacy in mind.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Sisi’s Incompetent Anti-Islamist Campaign.
by Daniel Pipes
Mar 24, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner
An Egyptian court in short order sentenced some 529 people to death today for the killing of a single police officer. News like this gives one pause.
Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the strongman of Egypt.
Very tough treatment of Islamists is needed to repress this totalitarian movement, including rejection of their efforts to apply Islamic law, keeping them out of mainstream institutions, even excluding their parties from the democratic process. But Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s extra-legal crackdown on Islamists will likely backfire and help the Islamist cause by winning them broad sympathy. Even if today’s absurd judgment gets reversed on appeal, it and others like it are doing real damage.
Sisi is riding high now, with out-of-sight popularity ratings, but he appears as unprepared to rule Egypt as another military man, Gamal Abdul Nasser, was 60 years ago. Two factors in particular – the dismal economy and the hostility between pro- and anti-Islamists – will likely bring Sisi down fast and hard. When that happens, Islamists will benefit from his incompetence no less than Sisi exploited the failures of Mohamed Morsi. The cycle continues, the country falls further behind, and the precipice looms.
More broadly, because the expected Egyptian failure in suppressing Islamism will have global ramifications, Sisi’s mistakes damage the anti-Islamist cause not just in his own country but internationally. The stakes in Egypt these days are high indeed. (March 24, 2014)
and I hope that the folks at Rutgers University take notice and do not cry only – injustice to Muslims in the US – we hope they will rather call for Imams in the US to speak up and tell co-religionists in the Middle East to shape up!
Film Screening of the Test of Freedom
& Talk with Director Khaliff Watkins.
APRIL 11th FRIDAY
Teleconference Lecture Hall
Alexander Library, New Brunswick NJ
(parking available in lots, 26, 30 & College Ave parking deck)
Flyer is attached!
Refreshments & finger foods will be served!
Facing growing hysteria and bias, US Muslims live out their faith and confront discrimination in ways that uplift those around them. Rejecting portrayals as the villain or the victim, they set forward their own narratives about the role of lslam in an increasingly diverse and divided America.
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Rutgers, Lucy Stone Hall,Room B323
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854
p (848)445-8444 x5
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
from: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik (ÖGfE) | Rotenhausgasse 6/8-9 | A-1090 Wien | europa at oegfe.at
| oegfe.at |
+43 1 – 533 4999
– Policy Brief 2’2014
Reference to the Full Policy Brief -
The Arab Spring: The role of quality education and the consequences of its lack.
By Anne Goujon
Vienna, 18. February 2014
Abstract & Policy Recommendations:
1. EU Member States should increase bilateral cooperation for teacher training with
Arab Spring Countries.
2. Focus on transparency and accountability in teachers training.
3. Promote the role of the EU as an umbrella and catalyst for all aid-driven education
system reforms activities.
The lack of quality education plays a major role
in explaining the Arab Spring: As a result of past
shortfalls in education, large shares of the working-
age population in the Arab-Spring countries do not
have the right qualifi cations for entering the labour
market. This not only leads to high levels of unem-
ployment but also entails poverty and social dist-
ress. At the macro level, it triggers a vicious cycle
of underdevelopment by hampering an upgrade to
economies driven by knowledge and innovation de-
spite the substantial numbers of higher educated ci-
tizens of working age in these countries. This holds
particularly true for Egypt. Remedying the current
lack of quality education should be a top priority
in the countries of North Africa, because it is the
source of many deficiencies plaguing this region. In
the Arab-Spring countries, the European Union’s
sectoral aid given for education has focused on
quantity (e.g. raising enrollment by supporting the
implementation of the Millennium Development
Goals for Education) rather than on quality, where
interventions usually target higher education (most-
ly through individual sponsorship programmes),
although there are challenges at all levels, starting
with basic education. The European Union’s main
priority should be to guide and assist these coun-
tries in developing training programmes for teachers
as the driving force behind the entire system reform.
Adams, A. and R. Winthrop
. 2011. The role of education in the Arab world. Brookings
Global Compact on Learning Report number 2.
. 1997. Population and education Prospects in the Western Mediterranean
Region. IIASA Interim Report IR-97-046. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.
. 2002. Population and education prospects in the Arab Region. In: I. Siragel-
din (ed.), Human capital: Population Economics in the Middle East. Cairo: The American
University in Cairo Press, An Economic Research Forum Edition: 116-140.
Goujon, A. and B. Barakat
. 2010. Future demographic challenges in the Arab world. The
Emirates Occasional Papers No. 75. Dubai: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and
Goujon, A. and H. Alkitkat
. 2010. Population et capital humain en Egypte à l’horizon
2050 [Population and human capital in Egypt up to 2050]. In: P. Blanc (ed.), Egyp-
te: l’Eclipse, Confl uences Méditerranée, numéro 75, Automne 2010: 33–48. Paris:
L’ H a r m a t t a n .
Goujon, A., S. K.C. 2010
. Gender gap handicap in North Africa. Options (IIASA, Laxen-
burg, Austria), Summer 2010, p.22.
Makhlouf Obermeyer, C.
1992. Islam, Women, and Politics: The Demography of Arab
Countries. Population and Development Review 18 (1): 33-60.
MRBF and UNDP
. 2012. Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011: Preparing Future Genera-
tions for the Knowledge Society. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Mohammed Bin Rashid
Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme /
Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS).
. 2013. Transparency International’s ›Global Corruption Baro-
Yousif, H. M., A. Goujon and W. Lutz
. 1996. Future Population and Education Trends in
the Countries of North Africa. Research Report RR-96-11. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954) is professor of economics and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. One of the youngest economics professors in the history of Harvard University (at age 28), Sachs became known for his role as an adviser to Eastern European and developing country governments during the transition from communism to a market system or during periods of economic crisis. Subsequently he has been known for his work on the challenges of economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization.
Sachs is Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Senior Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His latest book is To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace.
Sachs is leader in sustainable development and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries.
Now he teaches that the intertwined challenges of economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability must be addressed holistically, or else the world will find itself at dire risk of social instability and environmental calamity. The path ahead is a narrow one, fraught with difficulties and uncertainties, yet the promise of a better life for billions of people is also realistic. With proper policies and global cooperation, ours can be the era that ends extreme poverty, stabilizes the world’s population, and ushers in the exciting prospects of a new period of sustainable growth.
Some more about Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs:
Sachs was raised in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the son of Joan (née Abrams) and Theodore Sachs, a labor lawyer.
He attended Harvard College, where he received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1976. He went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, and was invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows while still a Harvard graduate student. In 1980, he joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1982. A year later, at the age of 28, Sachs became a full professor of economics with tenure at Harvard – one of the youngest ever.
During the next 19 years at Harvard, he became the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, director of the Harvard Institute for International Development at the Kennedy School of Government (1995–1999), and director of the Center for International Development (1999–2002).
In 2002, Sachs became the Director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University. His classes are taught at the School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health, and his course “Challenges of Sustainable Development” is taught at the undergraduate level.
In his capacity as director of the Earth Institute, he leads a university-wide organization of more than 850 professionals from natural-science and social-science disciplines, in support of sustainable development.
Sachs has consistently advocated for the expansion of university education on sustainable development, and helped to introduce the PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University, one of the first PhD programs of its kind in the U.S. He championed the new Masters of Development Practice (MDP), which has led to a consortium of major universities around the world offering the new degree. The Earth Institute has also guided the adoption of sustainable development as a new major at Columbia College. The Earth Institute is home to cutting-edge research on all aspects of earth systems and sustainable development.
Sachs’ policy and academic works span the challenges of globalization, and include: the relationship of trade and economic growth; the resource curse and extractive industries; public health and economic development; economic geography; strategies of economic reform; international financial markets; macroeconomic policy; global competitiveness; climate change; and the end of poverty. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of scholarly articles and several books, including three bestsellers and a textbook on macroeconomics that is widely used around the world.
In 2011, Sachs called for the creation of a third U.S. political party, the “Alliance for the Radical Center.“
Advising in Latin America and post-communist economies:
Sachs is known for his work as an economic adviser to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. A trained macroeconomist, he advised a number of national governments in the transition from communism to market economies.
In 1985, Bolivia was undergoing hyperinflation and was unable to pay back its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sachs, an economic adviser to the Bolivian government at the time, drew up an extensive plan, later known as shock therapy, to cut inflation drastically by liberalizing the Bolivian market, ending government subsidies, eliminating import quotas, and linking the Bolivian economy to the US dollar. After Sachs’s plan was implemented, inflation fell from 11,750% to 15% per year from 1985 to 1987.
In 1989, Sachs advised Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement and the Government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. He wrote the first-ever comprehensive plan for the transition from central planning to a market economy, which became incorporated into Poland’s reform program led by Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz. Sachs was the main architect of Poland’s successful debt reduction operation. Sachs and IMF economist David Lipton advised the rapid conversion of all property and assets from public to private ownership. Closure of many uncompetitive factories ensued. In Poland, Sachs was firmly on the side of rapid transition to “normal” capitalism. At first he proposed US-style corporate structures, with professional managers answering to many shareholders and a large economic role for stock markets. That did not fly with the Polish authorities, but he then proposed that large blocks of the shares of privatized companies be placed in the hands of private banks. As a result, there were some economic shortages and inflation, but prices in Poland eventually stabilized. The Government of Poland awarded Sachs with one of its highest honors in 1999, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Cracow University of Economics.
Sachs’ ideas and methods of transition from central planning were adopted throughout the transition economies. He advised Slovenia (1991) and Estonia (1992) in the introduction of new stable and convertible currencies. Based on Poland’s success, he was invited first by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and then by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the transition to a market economy. He served as advisor to Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and Finance Minister Boris Federov during 1991-93 on macroeconomic policies. He received the Leontief Medal of the Leontief Centre, St. Petersburg, for his contributions to Russia’s economic reforms.
Work on global sustainable economic development
More recently, Sachs has turned to global issues of economic development, poverty alleviation, health and aid policy, and environmental sustainability. He has written extensively on climate change, disease control, and globalization, and is one of the world’s leading experts on the fight against poverty and sustainable development.
Since 1995, Sachs has been deeply engaged in efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa. He has worked in more than two dozen African countries, and has advised the African leadership at several African Union summits. In the mid-1990s he worked with senior officials of the Clinton Administration to develop the concept of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). He has engaged with dozens of African leaders to promote smallholder agriculture and to fight high disease burdens through strengthened primary health systems. His pioneering ideas on investing in health to break the poverty trap have been widely applied throughout the continent. He currently serves as an advisor to several African governments, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, among others.
In his 2005 work, The End of Poverty, Sachs wrote “Africa’s governance is poor because Africa is poor.” According to Sachs, with the right policies and key interventions, extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1 a day — can be eradicated within 20 years. India and China serve as examples, with the latter lifting 300 million people out of extreme poverty during the last two decades. Sachs has said that a key element to accomplishing this is raising aid from $65 billion in 2002 to $195 billion a year by 2015. He emphasizes the role of geography and climate, as much of Africa is landlocked and disease-prone. However, he stresses that these problems can be overcome.
Sachs suggests that with improved seeds, irrigation, and fertilizer, the crop yields in Africa and other places with subsistence farming can be increased from 1 ton/hectare to 3-5 tons/hectares. He reasons that increased harvests would significantly increase the income of subsistence farmers, thereby reducing poverty. Sachs does not believe that increased aid is the only solution. He also supports establishing credit and microloan programs, which are often lacking in impoverished areas. Sachs has also advocated the distribution of free insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria. The economic impact of malaria has been estimated to cost Africa US$12 billion per year. Sachs estimates that malaria can be controlled for US$3 billion per year, thus suggesting that anti-Malaria projects would be an economically justified investment.
From 2002 to 2006, Sachs was the Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to then Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. Sachs founded the Millennium Villages Project, a plan dedicated to ending extreme poverty in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa through targeted agricultural, medical, and educational interventions. Along with philanthropist Ray Chambers, Sachs founded Millennium Promise, a nonprofit organization, to help the Earth Institute fund and operate the Millennium Villages Project.
The Millennium Villages Project, which he directs, operates in more than one dozen African countries, and covers more than 500,000 people. The MVP has achieved notable successes in raising agricultural production, reducing children’s stunting, and cutting child mortality rates, with the results described in several peer-reviewed publications. Its key concepts of integrated rural development to achieve the MDGs are now being applied at national scale in Nigeria and Mali, and are being used by many other countries to help support national anti-poverty programs. He works very closely with the Islamic Development Bank to scale up programs of integrated rural development and sustainable agriculture among the Bank’s member countries. One such project supports pastoralist communities in Eastern Africa, with six participating nations: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, Sachs has been the leading academic scholar and practitioner on the MDGs. He chaired the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (2000-1), which played a pivotal role in scaling up the financing of health care and disease control in the low-income countries to support MDGs 4, 5, and 6. He worked with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000-1 to design and launch the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He worked closely with senior officials of the George W. Bush administration to develop the PEPFAR program to fight HIV/AIDS, and the PMI to fight malaria. On behalf of Annan, from 2002-2006 he chaired the UN Millennium Project, which was tasked with developing a concrete action plan to achieve the MDGs. The UN General Assembly adopted the key recommendations of the UN Millennium Project at a special session in September 2005. The recommendations for rural Africa are currently being implemented and documented in the Millennium Villages, and in several national scale-up efforts such as in Nigeria.
Now a Special Adviser to current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sachs is still a leading advocate for the Millennium Development Goals, frequently meeting with foreign dignitaries and heads of state. He has also become a close friend of international celebrities Bono and Angelina Jolie, both of whom have traveled to Africa with Sachs to witness the progress of the Millennium Villages.
In August 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which will mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable-development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. The Network convenes 12 global expert Thematic Groups on key sustainable development challenges that will identify common solutions and highlight best practices, and over time will launch projects to pilot or roll-out solutions to sustainable development challenges and assist countries in developing sustainable long-term development pathways.
Sachs has been a consistent critic of the IMF and its policies around the world. He has blasted the international bankers for what he sees as a pattern of ineffective investment strategies.
In Vienna, Sachs presented THE AGE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT as an unavoidable direction for the future of humanity and stated clearly that he is an optimist and knows that in the end we will move in the right direction.
Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 18:00
The Aula of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (1010 Vienna, Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz 2).
The event was chaired jointly by Professor Pavel Kabat, the Director General of IIASA, Professor Anton Zeilinger – the institutional host, the President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences – the location host, and Dr. Franz Fischler the President of the European Forum Alpbach of Austria.
We heard an announcement about the creation of a new Think Tank based on the network that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon charged Professor Sachs to be its catalyst - that UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) of institutions dispersed globally. IIASA will organize one of these institutions and Professor Sachs will become in the future a more frequent visitor at IIASA. – perhaps IIASA will be a major locus for this Network. I understand that right the following day a small meeting at IIASA, with the participation of 10 people, will start on this endeavor.
THUS THE START OF A NEW PATH TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WITH THE UNDERSTANDING AND THE MANAGING OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS. Sachs pointed out that we proved to be so successful in extracting things and producing things that lead us to the present challenges – but these same qualities are also what will help us – - in the future – when applying them to reverse the present trend of self destruction by finding the right technologies that will move us in the right direction.
We are now the first generation that can bring havoc to the planet through our exploitation of it, but we will also be those that can apply the corrections. Sachs loves to quote President Kennedy who seems to be his idol – “Man holds in his hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life!” as per the January 20, 1963 Inaugural Address.
Sachs reminded us that 1692 billionaires (in dollars) hold $6.3 trillion dollars in their possession – and this inequality is the great challenge we face. It is combined further with environmental and social issues. When the past century has raised the ocean level by 75 cm in New York City it was the poor that suffer most. He saw in the recent floods in New York that only the Goldman Sachs building was lit – this because they knew not to put the back-up generators in the basement – like all others did. Beijing that got its floods earlier, got now choked in smog – and the WHO advised people to stay indoors – think of the best economic development in history and now they have the worst air and water.
Professor Sachs went on to look at the Middle East and at Syria in particular. He drew intersecting circles for Social Systems (dynamics), the Economy (Techno-Economy), Earth Systems and Governance and pointed out how countries that lived in peace for centuries with the different population groups side-by-side were now at each other’s throat. He suggested to take the temperature of the social trust of societies. Then to analyze governance of the political system and the business system – eventually to look at political governance – and to see how this impacts on the stress.
Sachs looked at the US-Saudi-Turkey line-up vs. the Russia-Iran line up in regard to Syria – then looked at Mega-droughts and Sectarian Divisions – crops fail and reduce human security.
Complex systems have pivot points – the world does not care if poor hungry people when facing calamity tend to find a way out via migration – and disease, epidemics, violence – unrest can happen quickly. To bring home his points Professor Sachs showed us the map of the Middle East droughts and we saw how it fits also the violence patterns.
Looking closer to home – to the US – Professor Sachs sees there the lack of “Points of View” – it could be dangerous for politicians to have a point of view, he said. We need planning in the US – but after the Soviet Union was gone the belief in the US seems to be that planning is a NO! NO! Markets are great institutions for distribution – but they do not plan.
Power can come from investing in young people. He also found that bad experience of parents can be passed to children – 2 generations down – and we do not understand how – but it is real he said.
Professor Sachs advocated that every country needed an energy plan – a strategy – it need not be the same. We destroy land, acidify water and lead to extinction of species – 30% of the world food is lost in transmission from farms to consumers. He mentioned the power of Hedge Funds but pointed out that 0.7% of the income on earth could help close the gap with the poor. He kept stressing that Wellbeing is not measured by GDP.
People want to live in societies that have social support systems.
Professor Sachs turned back to his Idol – President Kennedy and said that equal compliments deserved also Mr. Nikita Khrushchev, when the two went ahead with the partial nuclear treaty and said that the need was to have the Americans to change themselves and not just to try to change the world of their adversaries. Kennedy and Krushev were partners and both had opponents among the extremes in their systems.
Kennedy said: Let us not be blind to our differences but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved.
So, now – let us end poverty by 2030 – we know people are up to this challenge.
The most important vocabulary is built with the words – Poverty, Economy, Inclusion, Health, Food, Cities, and ENERGY/CLIMATE, Biodiversity, Governance – of which is built the SDNS Action Plan, 2013.
End Extreme Poverty Including
Growth and Jobs
Effective Education for
All Children and Youth for Life and
Achieve Gender Equality, Social Inclusion, and Human Rights for
Achieve Health and Wellbeing at All
Improve Agricultural Systems and Rural
Empower Inclusive, Productive, and Resilient
Change and Ensure Sustainable
Services, Biodiversity, Water, Natural Resources
10. Transform Government for Sustainable Development
The Kennedy goal to put a man on the moon in a decade can be the inspiration for goals like “Save the Planet,” “Save other Species” … WE ALL BREATH THE SAME AIR, WE ALL CHERISH OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE, AND WE ARE ALL MORTAL (JFK, June 10, 1963).
Main points of the presentartion:
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) – Schlossplatz 1 – A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 – Fax: (+43 2236) 71 313 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Chief Executive Officer, Hazon
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Administrative Unit, Climate Investment Funds
T: 1.202.458.1801 | F: 1.202.522.2937 | email@example.com
1818 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20433
www.climateinvestmentfunds.org | Follow us on @CIF_Action
Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos and news articles on CIF projects:
Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Martha Stein-Sochas, CIF AU, Feb 26
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I heard many helpful suggestions and ideas from private sector participants on the GCF’s future Private Sector Facility, which aims to provide financing for climate action in the private sector. But no advice was more powerful than that of Paul Needham, President and Co-founder of Simpa Networks, who related to us the need to move quickly, take risks, and be catalytic.
Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Emmanuel Kouadio, CIF AU, Feb 14
For the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), understanding the tangible results of its funding is essential to learning and accountability. It has been no small task to make monitoring and reporting (M&R) a reality across the four programs and 48 countries that comprise the CIF. But this year, 2014, all CIF pilot countries will report on results and annually thereafter.
World Bank, Government of Samoa Launch Climate Resilience Program
World Bank, February 6
“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.”
Keeping Partnership Strong as PPCR Planning Turns to Action in Samoa
Litara Taulealo, Ministry of Finance, Samoa, Feb 18
Last week the government of Samoa and the World Bank announced the launch of a new project to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities. Our Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project, supported by $14.6 million from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability, protect coastal infrastructure, and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society, and government entities.
Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Sandy Ferguson, EBRD, Feb 5
One thing jumps out when looking at the Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) report: with the right combination of financing, one can achieve substantial changes in energy use, emissions, and fuel mix in middle income countries.
Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Nepal is part of the larger effort to expand energy access and markets for renewable energy in the world’s poorest countries. Today, Nepal is using SREP to develop large-scale commercial, institutional, and municipal bioenergy projects
Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
Africa Express stopped in Kenya to learn more about geothermal power development at Menengai. SREP $25 million is supporting development of Menengai which envisions 120 wells injecting 400 megawatts of electricity into the national grid
AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
AfDB, February 26
Over US $30 million in concessional funds has been made available for innovative private sector projects that seek to improve climate change adaptation or readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia. This financing is part of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a financing window of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)
Open Call to Private Sector
CIF AU, Feb 20
Access over $65 million in concessional financing set aside for innovative private sector projects in PPCR and SREP pilot countries. Proposals being accepted until March 31 (SREP) and April 30 (PPCR). Read more.
Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
CIF AU, February 17
2013 was a year of growth for the CIF. The 2013 CIF Annual Report highlights emerging results, key lessons learned, and the momentum we are building for climate-smart development.
USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
EBRD, February 14
The first phase of the EBRD’s Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF) will deliver 200 GWh of renewable energy through an innovative combination of EBRD commercial financing, dedicated technical assistance support and
AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB, February 13
In addition, under the aegis of the Climate Investment Funds, the Bank has led work on the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Tanzania and prepared jointly with the World Bank the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Liberia. This will lead to projects in both countries.
AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
AfDB, February 4
The project, called Engaging Local Communities in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) /Enhancement of Carbon Stocks, benefits from the support from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP). It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will also indirectly benefit 175,000 people in the two regions.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Morocco to invest $11 billion in clean energy
In a statement to Al-Hayat, Moroccan sources declared that “electricity-generating solar and wind energy projects, implemented by Morocco in several regions in the east and south of the country, with investments worth approximately 90 billion dirhams [$11 billion], will allow Rabat to turn from an importer into an exporter of alternative energy by 2020, through building five solar energy stations.”
Oil and oil-derivatives importation cost Rabat $13 billion in 2013. Energy subsidies currently cost around 35 billion dirhams in the local market, compared to 54 billion in 2012. This negatively affects the trade balance, the overall financial balance and the budget deficit, estimated at 6% of the gross domestic product.
Sources reported that nine gigawatts of new energy would be produced, a 20% increase over current production, thus supplying around 42% of thermal electricity.
“We will have an electricity and energy surplus that can be sold to other close countries, particularly in Europe and Africa. This is currently happening in the energy grid between Algeria and Spain,” the sources added.
Energy exports will contribute to improving the trade balance and increasing Rabat’s hard currency resources, thus boosting development. Sources believe that scientific research in the field of future energies constitutes one of the options within the project, just like modern industries in the field of automotives, airplanes and smartphones, in which Morocco is a regional pioneer.
Saudi Power Energy International Group is building the first solar energy station in Morocco at a cost of over $900 million. The station will become operational in 2015. Other proposals are underway to build a second station with an overall production of 500 million megawatts in the city suburbs. Upon project completion, Morocco will become the Arab and Middle Eastern country that uses clean energies the most at the beginning of the next decade.
The Moroccan sources considered Rabat capable of ensuring the funding to build all wind and solar energy units because they are part of a strategic high-priority plan. Algeria is pressuring some parties that are supporting the Moroccan project about the funding of some energy stations in the desert. Sources related the cause to “regional political conflicts.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salaheldin Mizwar said that Rabat “has received the needed financial, political and technical support for such strategic projects. There are no funding problems because some states and international and regional financial groups are supporting the solar energy project in Morocco.”
American Forbes magazine wrote, “Giant companies working in the field of energy in North Africa have shown interest in the solar energy project in Morocco. They are excited to expand their activities and might even transfer some of their activity from Algeria, Libya and Egypt to Morocco. The companies pointed out that the Algerian-Moroccan dispute did not affect the decisions of international companies.”
“The problem of funding will not deter Morocco from its ambitious project that is backed by European countries, the Gulf and the United States, in addition to China and Japan, which encourage solar energy,” Forbes added.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated, along with King Mohammed VI, in the launch ceremony of the solar energy project in November 2009 in Ouarzazate in the south. The United States renewed its support for these projects during the summit, which brought together US President Barack Obama and the king of Morocco at the end of 2013 in the White House.
Rabat is looking forward to becoming a source of clean energy and collecting extra treasury returns, estimated to range between $7 billion and $10 billion, by 2021. It is also hoping to increase its oil and gas revenues — a prospect that is surrounded by extreme secrecy, although major discoveries of fossil energy have been unveiled. British and Australian companies have dug wells in several Moroccan regions, thereby confirming these discoveries.
On the other hand, government sources confirmed to Al-Hayat that the government will lift subsidies and will gradually liberalize the hydrocarbons sector in 2014. It has already lifted fuel and gasoline subsidies and intends to do the same for all hydrocarbons that are subsidized by the compensation fund. Moreover, the government is seeking to channel a portion of these expenses to poor groups whose classification is a subject of dispute among different political parties in the government.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Yingli And SolarAid Light Up African School
Yingli Green Energy and SolarAid joined forces to help Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia harness the power of the sun.
Donated by Yingli Solar and its partners through SolarAid, the system is large enough to meet the lighting requirements of the 600 student school; plus provides cell phone charging for the entire community.
“The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.
The new high school is located in one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps – the Mayukwayukwa Settlement – and was constructed under a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) program.
Less than 10% of rural sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity and families can spend up to a quarter of their income on kerosene for lighting. Kerosene lamps are carbon intensive and are also known to cause respiratory disease in households where they are heavily used. Africans spend billions a year on kerosene and while the fossil fuel may provide light, it also reinforces poverty.
“Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy; the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels.
SolarAid has set a goal of ridding the continent of kerosene lamps by 2020 and replacing them with clean power sources; improving the health, education and wealth of Africa’s 110 million households currently living without access to electricity.
SolarAid’s focus is the distribution of solar lights that cost as little as $10, pay for themselves after 12 weeks and last for five years.
“Quality, compact solar lights increase people’s income by an average of 20% per month,” states the SolarAid web site.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
|| Mon, Feb 17, 2014
Syrian rebels or international terrorists?
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
*Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
With Bashar Assad arguing that this is a war against terrorism, and the rebels arguing that this is a war against authoritarianism, no agreement can come of the peace talks on Syria.
Geneva 2’s mood mirrored the sound of mortar and despair on the ground in Syria. Not much of substance came of the former, as the U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tiredly indicated that diplomacy continued despite the lack of a breakthrough. He hoped that the United States and the Russians would pressure their clients to remain at the table, from where, for three weeks, little of value has emerged. No agreement can come of these peace talks for at least two reasons. First, the government of Bashar Assad and the rebel coalition do not agree on the interpretation of the conflict. Mr. Assad argues that this is a war against terrorism (Al-Qaeda), while the rebels argue that this is a war against authoritarianism (the Assad government). Second, the rebels themselves are deeply fractured, with the Islamists in Syria who are doing the brunt of the fighting indisposed to any peace talks.
Mr. Brahimi hoped that humanitarian relief would be the glue to hold the two sides together. Residents in the old city of Homs and in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk in Damascus have been under siege for two years. It was hoped that safe passage could be provided for food and medicine, but this was not accomplished. U.N. and Islamic Red Cross workers bravely avoided snipers and shells to transport food and medicines to the Syrians; children among them stared at fresh fruit, unsure of what to do with it. Absent momentum from Geneva, the options for a regional solution are back on the table.
Role for India, China?
In 2012, Egypt convened the Syria Contact Group that comprised Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — unlikely partners. Pressure from the U.S. and Russia at that time closed down the Group. Today, the regional partners seek an exit from their exaggerated postures over Syria, but there is no diplomatic space for them to act. It falls to powers that are untainted by the war, perhaps China and India, to call for a meeting — a Beijing or New Delhi summit — to craft a serious agenda to pressure all sides to a ceasefire and a credible political process.
The war is now fought less on the ground and more over its interpretation. Expectations of a hasty collapse of the government withdraw as the Syrian Army takes Jarajir, along the Lebanon border. Islamists groups continue to fight against each other in the north, weakening their firepower as the Syrian army watches from the sidelines. The emboldened Syrian government has now stepped up its rhetoric about this war being essentially one against terrorists with affiliation to al-Qaeda. Ears that once rejected this narrative in the West and Turkey are now increasingly sympathetic to it. As the Islamists suffocate the rebellion, it becomes hard to champion them against the government. Focus has moved away from the prisons and barrel bombs of the government to the executions and social policies of the Islamists.
A year ago, the West and Turkey would have scoffed at talk of terrorism as the fantasy of the Assad government. The West and the Gulf Arabs had opened their coffers to the rebels, knowing full well that they were incubating the growth of the Islamist factions at the expense of the secular opposition. Turkey’s government of Recep Tayyip Erdog?an micromanaged the opposition, provided bases in Turkey and allowed well-armed fighters to slip across the border into Syria. By early 2012, it had become a common sight to see well-armed Islamist fighters in the streets of Antakya and in the refugee camps in Hatay Province. The seeds of what was to come — the entry of al-Qaeda into Syria — was set by an opportunistic and poorly conceived policy by Erdog?an’s government. It did not help that his otherwise well-spoken and highly-regarded Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog?lu began to refer to Syria’s Alawites (Mr. Assad’s community) as Nusayri, a derogatory sectarian term. Turkey joined U.S., Europe and Gulf Arab calls for Mr. Assad’s departure well before the numbers of those dead climbed above the thousands. Nervousness about the spread of al-Qaeda to Syria has made the rebels’ patrons edge closer to the Damascus narrative. The U.S. government wishes to arm the Iraqi government with Hellfire missiles and drones to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Britain has said that any fighter who comes back from Syria will be arrested (last week, a Sussex man — Abu Suleiman al-Britani — conducted a suicide operation in Aleppo). The Saudi Royal Court decreed that any Saudi found to have waged jihad abroad could spend up to 20 years in prison.
General Mansour al-Turki of the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “We are trying to stop everyone who wants to go to Syria, but we can’t stop leaks.” The Turkish Armed Forces fired on an ISIS convoy on January 28 inside Syria, and told the government in a report prepared jointly with the Turkish National Intelligence agency that al-Qaeda had made credible threats on Turkey.
Mr. Erdog?an hastened to Tehran to meet the new Iranian leadership — their public comments were on trade, but their private meetings were all on Syria and the need to combat the rise of terrorism. What Mr. Assad had warned about in 2012 came to pass — for whatever reason — and led to a loss of confidence among the rebels’ patrons for their future. Even al-Qaeda’s putative leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has sought to distance himself from ISIS. These signs indicate that on Syria, the “terrorism narrative” has come to dominate over the “authoritarian regime narrative.”
The fractious Syrian opposition that came to Geneva does not represent the main columns of rebel fighters on the ground. These are mainly Islamists — with the al-Qaeda wing represented by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the rest represented by the Islamic Front. They have no appetite for negotiation. Mr. Abu Omar of the Islamic Front said that Syria’s future would be created “here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the frontlines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don’t even represent themselves.” A U.S. intelligence official told me that when the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001, “We smashed the mercury and watched it spread out slowly in the area.” Al-Qaeda was not demolished in Kandahar and Tora Bora. Its hardened cadre slipped across to Pakistan and then onwards to their homelands. There they regrouped, reviving the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, and ISIS. The latter slipped into Syria from an Iraq broken by the U.S. occupation and the sectarian governance of the current government. There they worked with Jabhat al-Nusra and fought alongside other Islamist currents such as Ahrar ash-Sham. It was inevitable that these battle-tested Islamists would overrun the peaceful protesters and the defectors from the Syrian Army — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — who scattered to the wind in 2012.
The FSA troops either joined up with the Islamists, continued to fight in small detachments, or linger precariously as twice defectors who are now homeless. The barbarism of the ISIS pushed other Islamists — with Gulf Arab support — to form the Islamic Front. The hope was that this group would run ISIS back to Iraq and remove the stigma of “al-Qaeda” from the Syrian rebellion. The problem is that one of the constituents of the Islamic Front — Jabhat al-Nusra, arguably the most effective of its fighting forces — sees itself as the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda and has largely abjured the fight against ISIS. Another problem is that the in-fighting on the ground seems to have tapered off — one of the Islamist groups, Suqour al-Sham signed a truce with ISIS and pledged to work together.
By early 2014, these groups found their supply lines cut off. Iraq’s attack on ISIS began to seal the porous border that runs through the Great Syrian Desert. Jordan had already tried to close its border since early 2013, having arrested over a hundred fighters who have tried to cross into Syria. Lebanon’s border has become almost inaccessible for the rebels as the Syrian Army takes the roadway that runs along the boundary line. Last year, Turkey closed the Azaz crossing once it was taken over by the radical Islamists.
On January 20, the rebels attacked the Turkish post at Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hawa, killing 16. This is what spurred the Turkish Army to attack the ISIS convoy a week later.
As the Islamists saw their supply lines closed off, the U.S. announced that it would restart its aid to the rebel fighters. On February 5, the Syrian Coalition chief Ahmad Jabra told Future TV that his rebels would get “advanced weapons” — likely from the U.S. The FSA announced the formation of the Southern Front – with assistance from the West — to revive the dormant fight in Syria’s south-west. All this took place during Geneva 2, signalling confusion in U.S. policy. Does Washington still want to overthrow the Syrian government? Would it live with an Islamist government on Israel’s borders? Or, perhaps, the U.S. is eager for a stalemate, as pointed out by former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad. The regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides’ external allies are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.” This is a cruel strategy.
It offers no hope of peace for the Syrian people.
Road ahead for Syria group:
A senior military official in West Asia told me that one of the most overlooked aspects of West Asia and North Africa is that the military leaderships of each country maintain close contacts with each other. During Turkey’s war against the Kurdish rebellion in its eastern provinces, the military coordinated their operations with the Syrian armed forces. These links have been maintained. When it became clear that Mr. Erdog?an’s exaggerated hopes for Syria failed, and with the growth of the Islamists on Turkey’s borders and the Kurds in Syria having declared their independence, the Turkish military exerted its views. The Iraqi armed forces had already begun their operations against ISIS. Additionally, Egypt’s new Field Marshal Sisi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi when the latter encouraged jihadis to go to Syria. This was anathema to the Egyptian military who acted for this and other reasons to depose Mr. Morsi. The military view of the political situation leans naturally toward the terrorism narrative.
It appears now that the regional states are no longer agreed that their primary mission is the removal of Mr. Assad.
This view — shared by the militaries — is evident in the political leadership in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.With Egypt, these three states would be the core of a rejuvenated Syria Contact Group.
The 2012 group also had Saudi Arabia, which might be enjoined to come back to the table if they see that their outside allies — notably the U.S. — are averse to a policy that would mean Jabhat al-Nusra in power in Damascus.
Without Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Qatar, the Syria Contact Group would be less effective.
If the Syria Contact Group is to re-emerge, it would need to be incubated by pressure from China and India, two countries that are sympathetic to multipolar regionalism.
Thus far, neither China nor India has taken an active role in the Syrian conflict, content to work within the United Nations and to make statements as part of the BRICS group.
But the failure of the U.S. and Russia and the paralysis of the U.N. alongside the continued brutality in Syria require an alternative path to be opened up.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have indicated willingness for a dialogue — China and India need to offer them the table.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city
Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST
El Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock
The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.
Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”
El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination. It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).
Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants. They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.
Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.
Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
BrightSource’s Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, is live
Posted: 14 Feb 2014
It has been a long, controversial and expensive road for BrightSource Energy, but their 392 megawatt concentrating solar plant is now finally delivering renewable energy to the California grid and it is the largest plant of its kind in the world.
Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS), which is comprised of 350,000 garage door-sized mirrors that reflect sunlight onto boilers atop 40 foot towers, is jointly owned by NRG Solar, Google and BrightSource Energy –
a company that started out at Luz International in Israel.
In addition to offsetting roughly 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the massive solar facility located roughly 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, will deliver solar power to roughly 140,000 homes via California utility companies PG&E and Southern California Edison.
Despite this enormous boost for solar energy, BrightSource Energy has taken a lot of heat from environmentalists and social activists for their five square mile solar project in the Mojave desert.
It took months to resolve the issue of relocating desert tortoises that call the desert home, to make way for thousands of concentrating mirrors, and Native Americans complained that the project destroys sites that are sacred to them.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the towers, which reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, have scorched an astonishing number of birds.
The paper also notes that the energy produced at Ivanpah will cost four times as much as natural gas and boasts a smaller generation capacity to land ratio than conventional plants. In other words, CSP projects like ISEGS require more land than fossil fuel plants.
Despite these downsides, the $2.2 billion plant will produce one third of all solar thermal energy in the United States, and potentially pave the way for similar projects to take flight as well.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
FROM THE AL MONITOR OF FEBRUARY 15, 2014
Bahraini opposition holds conference in Beirut.
“Ongoing violations and constant impunity”: such was the cry adopted as a slogan this year by the Third International Conference on Human Rights in Bahrain. This was a cry addressed to the international community, following three years of unending suffering for the people of Bahrain. Tomorrow [Feb. 14], Bahrainis are commemorating the anniversary of the start of their uprising with protests that will fill the streets of Bahrain. These protests were called for two weeks ago by opposition political organizations. The conference began its activities yesterday [Feb. 12] at the Coral Beach Hotel in Beirut, in the presence of political and human rights dignitaries, with a short film that recounted the story of the “Bahraini revolution” from Feb. 14, 2011, until today. The film illustrated the peaceful nature of the movement, despite the continued repression exercised by the government.
Summary? Print As the third anniversary of the Bahrain uprising approaches, opposition activists are holding a conference in Beirut to draw the attention to the human rights abuses carried out by the Bahraini regime.
Author Ali Shukair Posted February 13, 2014
The first speaker was conference Chairman Youssef Rabih, who’s also the head of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and who substantiated the continued violation of Bahraini human rights and the arbitrary arrests of activists. He criticized the government for its violation of the Convention Against Torture, to which it was one of the first signatories.
In an interview with As-Safir concerning the practical measures that the conference will adopt to limit such transgressions, Rabih said: “The Bahraini rights dossier will be the subject of added focus at this stage. The Bahraini government was forced to acquiesce and allow a visit by the United Nations assessment team to Bahrain.” He also indicated that “the presence of the assessment team will mean better monitoring of and more pressure on the Bahraini regime in the coming phase.”
He added, “The open dialogue in Bahrain today is the culmination of international pressure exercised on the Bahraini government, which must be held accountable for its crimes against humanity.”
Concerning the Bahraini crown prince’s call for holding negotiations, Rabih asserted to As-Safir: “Inside the Bahraini regime, there exist competing factions. It would seem that the crown prince received support from non-Arab countries to open up to the opposition; this, in addition to him receiving a prerequisite Saudi green light. In this coming phase, Bahrainis must continue [their movement], and so they shall.”
At the conference, several Bahraini, Arab and foreign jurists took to the podium in succession. Most prominent among them was the principal partner in the conference, lawyer Mohamed al-Tajer, the head of the Bahraini Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. Tajer expressed surprise at the manner by which the international community was dealing with the Bahraini [opposition] movement, and that international parties were turning a blind eye to the violations against prisoners of conscience, children and women.
Tajer spoke with As-Safir about the practical measures that will be undertaken by people concerned with the Bahraini situation, to mark the third anniversary of the movement. He said, “Preparations are ongoing and varied, to combat the government’s abuses. In addition to this conference, we have colleagues in Britain, Washington and Geneva who are attending symposia, presenting papers and cooperating with international organizations and lawyers sympathetic to the Bahraini cause. This is to put pressure aimed at holding accountable those responsible for these crimes and violations.”
Tajer reiterated the demand for an international controller from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to deal with the Bahraini issue. “We demand that this controller be given the widest authority, not only to offer technical aid — as the government desires — but to combat the violations, submit reports about them and put a stop to them.” He also demanded that “a special session be held by the Human Rights Council, to condemn the Bahraini government, as was the case in other countries.”
During the conference, a speech was given on behalf of the high commissioner of the United Nations, as well as Amnesty International. Noteworthy was the presence of two prominent foreign personalities interested in the Bahraini cause, namely British lawyer Pete Weatherby, and American lawyer Abby Jules. The latter strongly criticized the political arrests carried out by the regime, and affirmed that she would be presenting this issue before the American court of public opinion, as well as Congress.
At the end of the conference, the “always present absentee” lawyer and human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, whose brainchild the event was, was presented with a shield of honor that a representative accepted — and a video clip dedicated to him was shown.
It’s worth mentioning that the conference continues today, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., where several issues will be addressed. In addition, there will be interactive sessions with several activists, followed by a final statement and recommendations.
Sudan opposition: Bashir hosting Egyptian Brotherhood leaders.
Alaa el-Din Abdel Rahman, leader of the Tamarod movement in Sudan, said, “Sudan’s Tamarod movement existed before Egypt’s Tamarod movement, which was recently in the spotlight.
The movement in Sudan was in fact formed five years ago, before the Arab Spring revolutions, and it included youth groups that were created in the streets and resembled a popular revolution. However, we did not get much attention due to the lack of media coverage. This resulted from the tyranny of the regime, which imposed censorship on the media, thus pushing the leaders of the movement to go to Egypt.
“There, we called ourselves the Sudanese Tamarod movement for our name to echo in the Arab and Islamic worlds. We also took with us to Cairo the media and foreign relations files and coordinated with the opposition. When the September incidents took place, we were not expecting the regime to be this violent with the protesters. Over three days, the regime killed 350 people and arrested 2,150 others, not to mention the ones who ‘disappeared.’”
Abdel Rahman told Azzaman that everyone agrees on toppling the regime, uniting the opposition, forming a consensual transitional government and bringing back the 1956 constitution. In response to a question about the mechanisms adopted to achieve these goals, he said, “We will take it to the streets, protest and coordinate with the reliable people of some political parties. We will steer clear of parties like the Democratic Union Party and the Umma Party, which concluded deals with the ruling regime to share the pie, irrespective of the interests of the Sudanese people.”
Abdel Rahman clarified, in statements to Azzaman, “Some of the youth in the movement asked to carry weapons, in response to the regime’s oppressive measures led against us. Yet, we refused and insisted on maintaining the peaceful aspect of our protests so as not to give the regime the chance to distort our image.”
Some believe that the Sudanese Tamarod movement is not really present in the Sudanese street. Abdel Rahman denied these statements and said that they are constantly repeated by the ruling regime or by the opposition that is allied with this regime.
“In fact, our youth have been in the streets for 10 years. They protested in the streets in September 2013, and most of them were the movement’s youth. Unfortunately, the media sides with the regime in its coverage,” he added.
Abdel Rahman confirmed to Azzaman that they are coordinating with the Egyptian Tamarod movement.
“When I arrived to Cairo to escape the tyranny of the Sudanese government, we contacted the Egyptian Tamarod movement, which offered us moral support. The movement allowed us to use its headquarters, and we are still coordinating,” he noted.
Regarding rumors that the Egyptian organizations are supporting the Sudanese Tamarod movement to pressure the Sudanese government, Abdel Rahman told Azzaman, “These are lies repeated by the regime to distort our image. We do not have any capacities to do so. The best proof is that we did not have cameras during the September protests, and we relied on our mobile phones to take videos. Where would we get the funding from?”
He also revealed that the Sudanese regime had strong relationships with former President Mohammed Morsi’s regime. When the June 30 Revolution took place, the regime hosted several Brotherhood leaders. Sudan became a route for smuggling weapons to Egyptian members of the opposition. There are, indeed, arsenals that are funded by Iran, as the Sudanese regime has strong relations with this country. The latter supplies Sudan with weapons and provides huge investments. The Sudanese regime is also working on implementing Iran’s agenda in the Horn of Africa
Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/02/sudan-tamarod-movement-interview-bashir-brotherhood.html#ixzz2tJOJyY00